The second edition of the Vizag Junior Literary Fest underway at Hawa Mahal

A literary treat: The second edition of the Vizag Junior Literary Fest will roll around on Saturday and Vizagites are agog with excitement. Here’s a curtain raiser on what to expect at the two-day event, which will be held at Hawa Mahal

An impressive line-up of sessions

Launched in 2018 by festival directors Sonal Sarda, Priya Uppalapati and Sandhya Godey, the Vizag Junior Literary Fest (VJLF) had won the hearts of little book lovers in its inaugural year itself. A different mix of authors, storytellers, puppeteers and illustrators will weave their magic on children and adults alike during the two-day fest (November 16 & 17).

This year, 21 authors and storytellers from across India and Singapore will be a part of the event, which will have about 100 sessions for children in the age group of four to 16 years spread over the two days. The list of speakers include Paro Anand, Roopa Pai, Jeeva Raghunath, Deepa Kiran, Janaki Sabeesh and Kapil Pandey. The theme this year is puppetry and adhering to it day one will end with a session of tholubommalata. Second day will end with the performance of Mumbai-based The Puppetarians. “The festival will have a different flavour this year because of the mix of authors and storytellers. There will be unique experiences like various forms of puppetry, folk tales and stories that celebrate diversities in races, religion, abilities and more,” says Sonal Sarda

The open sessions that will be held throughout the day at the open lawns of the venue is expected to draw a big crowd. Last year the walk-ins and registrations crossed more than 3,000. The fest will see three book launches by publishers Karadi Tales, Hachette India and Reem Wisdom Pages.

Janaki Sabesh during a session at the Vizag JuniorLiterary Festival

Janaki Sabesh during a session at the Vizag JuniorLiterary Festival  

From the authors and storytellers

The fest will enrich the winter afternoons with captivating sessions for children and adults alike. Bringing enchanting folk tales from across India is Kapil Pandey, president of the Kutumb Foundation, who discovered his love for storytelling five years ago when he met the Gruffalo in the deep dark wood along with his two-year-old daughter. Talking about his sessions at the fest, Kapil says: “My focus will be on folk stories, which find resonance in various parts of India as well as abroad. I use theatrical tools like music and rhythm to make entire storytelling experience memorable,” he says. Kapil’s stories, he says, will not only entertain a four-year-old, it will have some valuable messages for the adults as well.

Hyderabad-based storyteller Nupur Aggarwal will bring along the art of Kamishibai, a Japanese form of storytelling. She will also host role-play sessions where children in the age group of four to seven years will be made a part of the story by assigning them characters. A trained nutritionist who took to storytelling six years ago, she will be conducting storytelling workshops for the children of age eight to 12 years as well.

Bal Sahitya Puraskar winner Paro Anand will put aside all your presumptions of children’s books with her latest ‘Being Gandhi’. The book is about a school project that prompts the young Chandrashekhar to apply the Gandhian principles in a modern context. The author will be taking multiple sessions at the fest.

The book corner

More than 2,000 titles from 250 authors and 50 publishers will be displayed at the book corner set up by Pages Book Store at the fest. “All the books at the fest are carefully curated depending on the age group. There will be primarily Indian authors and only children’s fiction,” says Sunil Nevatia of Pages Book Store. The little book lovers can interact with their favourite authors at this space and grab their author-signed titles. “We also have a team of book counselors, who will be available at the stall to help parents and children select the books,” adds Sunil. The stall will have a relaxed setup where children can sit in chairs and sofas and enjoy an afternoon with books. A memorabilia section will also be kept with caps, bookmarks, finger puppets and steel mugs.

Book corner set up by Pages The Bookshop

Book corner set up by Pages The Bookshop  

The wait is over…

“The best thing about the fest is that it encourages children to read more. My daughter, Manya, who is now in grade eight, was introduced to Roopa Pai during the first edition of the fest. She admires the author now and has read most of her books. Even this year, she has enrolled for the author's sessions and is looking forward to meeting her,” says Vandana Killa, a mother of two.

Top 10 picks from fest directors
  • 1. ‘Being Gandhi’ by Paro Anand
  • 2. ‘The Good Indian Child’s Guide to Playing Cricket’ & ‘The Good Indian Child’s Guide to Eating Mangoes’ by Natasha Sharma -
  • 3. ‘Thukpa for All’ by Praba Ram
  • 4. ‘A Tangle of Brungles’ by Shobha Viswanath
  • 5. ‘Ekki Dokki’ from Tulika Books
  • 6. ‘Ninja Nani’ series by Lavanya Karthik
  • 7. ‘The Lion’s Feast’ by Lavanya Karthik
  • 8. ‘From Leeches to Slug Glue’ by Roopa Pai
  • 9. ‘Shah Jahan and the Ruby Robber’ by Natasha Sharma
  • 10. ‘When Jiya met Urmila’ by Shabnam Minwalla

Like Vandana, several parents in the city believe that the fest has been a major influence in turning children towards books. Reena Somani, mother of nine-year-old Avani, is glad that the fest is creating a culture where the children are kept away from the screens. “The interactive sessions and the dramatic way of storytelling are drawing children towards books,” she says. The open sessions that are hosted for children and parents are what Reena likes the most. For nine-year-old Karnidhan Killa, the word ‘cricket’ was enough to register for author Natasha Sharma’s session who will be hosting an interactive session ‘Playing Cricket’ at the fest and is excited about her new book The Good Indian Child’s Guide to Playing Cricket.

Giving wings to creativity

Fourteen school students from Andhra Pradesh will soon be published authors with their first book, ‘Once Again Upon A Time’ set to be launched at the second edition of VJLF. “We conducted a short story writing competition where children were given a list of 20 stories like ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ or ‘Eklavya’ to which they had to write the sequels,” says fest director Sonal.

One among the child authors is 14-year-old M Lakshmi who decided to take Alice to another wonderland. Lakshmi wove a story of another fictional land where imperfections and flaws are welcomed. “The story is about Alice’s dream about a wonderland where she lies to a wilting rose that it is still beautiful and laughs at a king for he does not fit into her definition of being a ruler. As a consequence of this, she is banished and locked into a dungeon. Waking up from her dream, she realises that the world is imperfect and she rather loves it that way,” says Lakshmi a student of Timpany School who titled her story Alice in a Perfect Land.

When Aneesh Amuloju was told about the story writing competition, it took him just over an hour to send Dorothy and her companions from The Wizard of Oz on another adventure. With a message that good always triumphs over evil, Aneesh crafted a story where Dorothy helps the villain, Damen to set free from the shackles of an evil spirit.

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Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 1:32:07 PM |

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